Who doesn’t want to raise their child to be a good person? Teaching your child to be charitable is an excellent way to promote sharing and kindness. As they grow up, these lessons will help them sympathize with others and make them active citizens of their community and the world as a whole. And, the most charitable people in the world, the better place the world will be!
These eight tips will help you raise kids who could grow up to save the world!
Let Them Choose The Cause
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Your child will be more likely to be interested in giving if they know they are helping a charity that means something to them. You can help them choose by selecting a few causes based on their interests. If your child is an avid reader, suggest the library. If you have a budding scientist, maybe a museum would be a good match. If your kid dances everywhere they go, perhaps the local ballet. You can also suggest causes that they might feel connected to because of family or friends. For example, if a relative has been diagnosed with cancer, you could suggest a local cancer organization. Or if your child knows someone who has been affected by a natural disaster, they might feel good giving to support relief efforts.
If your child is old enough, once they have chosen their cause, you could sign them up to receive newsletters or emails from the organization. This engagement will keep them informed and show them how their donations or volunteer efforts are making a difference.
Start Them Young
Toddlers are often self-centered, so this lesson is probably a little too advanced for them. But once your kid hits 3 or 4 years old, you can start teaching them that they can help others.
The holidays are an obvious time for this as toy drives and angel trees are around every corner. Letting your preschooler choose a gift to donate may be a little time consuming or even frustrating, but it is an excellent first lesson. I did this with my three-year-old, and we spent about 15 minutes in the toy department while she pointed out everything that she wanted. But I held my ground and explained that she would likely get almost everything on her Christmas list, but there were many kids out there who might not receive any gifts at all unless we helped, so I needed her help to pick out a toy. Afterwards, we went straight to the toy drive, and I let her be the one to give the gift.
During the rest of the year, you can still teach your preschooler about giving. Reading stories about helping others is a great way to do this. You can also have conversations about giving, just try to put everything into the simplest words possible. Being charitable is a pretty big concept so the easier you can make it the better. Say things like “this money will give a child a yummy dinner just like we ate tonight,” or “a little girl who doesn’t have many books would love to have this book that you don’t read anymore,” or “you can help someone who is sick feel better by giving this money/toy/food.”
Keep Two Piggy Banks
Are your kids constantly getting money in the mail? Two bucks in a Valentine’s card from his great aunt, $5 for Saint Patrick’s Day from grandma, then everyone sends something at Easter! Sometimes I wonder if my kid is making more money than me.
It’s great to stash that cash away for a rainy day, a new bike, or college tuition, but even better if you put some aside for your child’s favorite charity.
This is very simple to do, and it shouldn’t make your child feel like they have to give up much at all. If he “earned” $8 just by existing this Valentine’s Day, he can keep $4 for his piggy bank and put $4 in the piggy bank for his cause (tell your relatives that he’s doing this, and I bet they start including even more cash between those layers of Hallmark cardstock!). Or if you give her your $1.20 in pocket change, she can throw two quarters in her bank and the rest in her charity’s bank.
At the end of the year, you can add it all up. You’ll be amazed at what a difference you can make with a little change!
Got a birthday coming up? Encourage your child to consider asking his friends to contribute to a cause that means something to him rather than bringing him 15 of the same Star Wars Lego sets. The parents will all be relieved that they can skip the painful task of picking out a gift, and you can avoid the awkward moment when your daughter opens the third Frozen microphone of the day.
If he would rather not give up the gifts, ask him to donate half the cash he receives. It’ll be even more encouraging if you promise to match his gift dollar for dollar.
Let Them Pick Items To Donate
Time for a little spring cleaning? An excellent way to start clearing out that clutter is by finding items to donate to local organizations who can put your items to good use.
Sure, you could just go to your child’s room, grab everything they don’t wear or play with anymore and stick it in a bag to charity. But you’ll teach a much bigger lesson if you let them choose their things to donate. Have your kid look through her room and pick out several books or toys that she no longer uses and bring them to a local organization to donate. Young kids have no concept of money, but they can understand that they enjoyed Goodnight Moon and that if they donate that book, another child might get to enjoy it too.
“Double” Their Allowance
If your child gets an allowance, consider creating a plan to work in some allowance money to go to charity. Kids don’t have many opportunities to earn money to use for donations, so this is a great way to let them do that. Think of it as a workplace giving campaign.
Perhaps if your child earns his allowance by completing one chore per day, you could offer extra cash for his charity each time he completes an additional task. Or if you reward your child for good grades, then each “A” could earn an extra couple of bucks for her favorite cause.
Giving your child a way to donate money that they have earned, sets them up for adulthood. They’ll understand the benefit of work and the benefit of giving back..
After School Programs That Give Back
There are thousands of choices for after school programs. Between soccer and ballet and swimming and track, your child could have at least one activity every night of the week. Remembering to keep a service driven activity in that rotation is a good way to make sure you are raising charitable kids.
The Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts are great options. Most schools offer tons of other choices in addition to those. Seeing his friends doing good, volunteering, and donating will make him even more willing to be a part of it. Parents can certainly have a great influence on children, but backing that up with a bunch of other kids her age is the best way to make it stick!
Lead By Example
Your daughter is just as bossy at age five as you are today. Your son has your sweet tooth. Your baby has her father’s eyes. If you can pass on all of these traits, you can certainly pass on the desire to live a charitable life.
If your children see you volunteering, donating, and doing your best to make the world a better place, they will want to do the same thing. Talk about what you are doing and why you are doing it. Let them see you in action. If you’re sending in a donation, call your daughter in to help you seal the envelope and stick on the stamp. If you had a day of service at your office, take photos of your volunteer work to show your kids when you get home.
As much as you can make being charitable a part of your daily life, your children will follow in your footsteps.